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Remembering David Crosby & CSN

written by REO Speedwagon

Hi friends, this past Wednesday, January 18 we played the iconic San Jose Civic, and before the show my friend and longtime promoter Alex Hodges took me on a little tour of the venue’s history. We passed photos of Eric Clapton, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, but when we got to the photo of Crosby Stills and Nash, on the stage where  I would be standing that night, I couldn’t help but stop and share my love of that band, and those three legendary musicians. On the following day, Thursday January 19, I would be heartbroken by the news that David Crosby had passed away.

It would be a stretch to call David a friend, but he was my neighbor, and the interactions David and I shared were always friendly and inspirational. By the time I met him, Crosby’s wilder days were behind him, he had moved in with the love of his life Jan Dance, and his main vice was herbal tea! I was working on a song with Stephen Stills, a response to the bombing of Iraq in 1991, and my plan was to get the song recorded and on the radio as soon as possible. It seemed like a job for CSN, so I left a note in David’s mailbox.

I recognized his voice when he called back that afternoon and invited me over.  David was so joyful, having rediscovered his love of music, and was into writing songs with Phil Collins via Fax machine …very high tech for the early Nineties! Jan brewed the tea, and David handed me one of his beautiful acoustic guitars. I will never forget how David Crosby sat, cross legged, eyes closed, swaying gently to the rhythm as I played my song, “Hard to Believe”. When I strummed the last chord, he was still, in a trance-like state. He felt music with every ounce of his being; he really listened. Then he eyes flashed open, and his face broke out in a smile. “I’m in”, he said, “Let me know when and where.”

The recording session was booked for later that week, and in the meantime, unbeknownst to me David had skidded out his Harley on the treacherous S-curve just up our street. My friend Richard Marx, Bill Champlain, and I were at the studio sorting through the various sections of the song, thinking about who would sing what lines, when the doorbell rang. Through the peephole I recognized the unmistakable twinkle in the eyes of the great David Crosby. But when I opened the door, my mind was blown. David stood on crutches, bruised and battered from the motorcycle accident, yet ready and willing to add his distinctive tenor to our record.

I had loved David Crosby as a singer, songwriter, musician, and artist since I was a teenager. But now, having gotten to know him personally, I also love him as a man. David led a challenging life, and obviously made his share of questionable choices …haven’t we all? But he showed his true colors during the “Hard to Believe” project. Richard Marx and I agree that that recording session was one of the most rewarding and inspirational musical experiences of our lives. I am hoping to post the audio from that session here soon so you can all enjoy the immediately recognizable David Crosby vocals.

My condolences go out to his sweet wife Jan, his children, and his band mates Stephen, Graham, and Neil …much love and sadness, kc